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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

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Publication Date

Fall 2003




American Bar Association




This article summarizes U.S. Supreme Court cases from the October 2002 term that related directly or indirectly to labor or employment law or have implications for labor and employment practitioners. Of particular interest are the University of Michigan affirmative action cases' and the Texas criminal sodomy case. 2 Although not nominally "labor and employment" cases, these cases will profoundly affect labor and employment issues. Lawrence v. Texas has already altered the lenses through which society views homosexuality and altered public discourse related to homosexuality and same-sex relationships. 3 The reasoning of the Court shows how far issues of sexuality have advanced since Bowers v. Hardwick came down in 1986.' This term, the Supreme Court also decided important labor and employment cases relating to ERISA, ADA, FMLA, FLSA, Title VII, and the False Claims Act, as well as cases related to railroads and coal mines.5 Many of these cases dealt with relatively "minor" issues, such as whether late assignments are valid under the Coal Act 6 and whether partners in a medical practice should be counted as employees for the purpose of determining coverage under the ADA.7

The Court also decided an important contract case related to interpretation of arbitration clauses that will have implications for the labor and employment practitioner,8 as well as an important case regarding limitations on punitive damage awards.9 The Court dismissed a case concerning false advertising and deceptive trade practices that may have implications for the constitutionality of limits on blended speech (i.e., speech that is both commercial and noncommercial), and that could eventually lead to curbs on First Amendment rights related to the representation of corporate employment practices in the public arena. 10

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